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Sorry Works! Blog

Making Disclosure A Reality For Healthcare Organizations 

Sending Mail to Family After Death in Hospital - True Story

Wade and Jennifer Westhoff lost their two-year old daughter, Morgan, to adverse medical events in January 2013.  To listen to the family's story, the hospital - Children's Hospital Oakland - was not empathetic nor proactive post-event and did not communicate effectively.  The family had to dig on their own for answers and information, and the family believes their investigation has uncovered errors that led to their daughter's death. While the hospital was neither pro-active nor empathetic post-event, they did send mail to the Westhoffs: Fundraising letters, annual reports, marketing materials, and surveys -- How can we improve Morgan's care?  One fundraising letter was dated January 18, 2013 -- the day Morgan died.   The Westhoffs have been donors to the hospital.  The family met with the hospital late last summer to discuss the case, provide a proposal to resolve the situation, and make a simple request: Please stop the mail.   The hospital rejected the Westhoff's proposal and the mail has kept coming, including a couple weeks ago when they received an invitation for a big-ticket fundraising dinner.  It's like a continual slap in the face to the Westhoffs every time they open their mail box.

At Sorry Works, we've raised this issue in the past.  As you build out your disclosure programs, remember the Westhoff family.  When an adverse event happens, all mail - fundraising, marketing, billings, collections, surveys, etc - need to halt immediately, and all communications need to be re-routed through the disclosure team.  I've heard excuses why this can't happen...."Well, that's the foundation or marketing folks...they work in a different building."  Simply unacceptable.  With one click of a button, you should be able to stop all mailings to a grieving family.

The local Fox affiliate in Oakland picked up this story...it speaks for itself: http://www.ktvu.com/s/news/2investigates/    Here is the link for the promo Channel 2 ran several times over the last couple days: http://www.ktvu.com/videos/news/tonight-on-the-ten-oclock-news-on-ktvu-channel-2/vCSYZt/.   Imagine this was your hospital or healthcare organization? 

And here is the link for a text version of Channel 2's story: http://www.ktvu.com/news/news/local/2-investigates-family-solicited-hospital-donations/nd6f9/.

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